WXXI AM News

Inclusion Desk

The Inclusion Desk is a multi-platform reporting effort by WXXI News to inform and transform attitudes and behavior about inclusion. The Inclusion Desk grew from the Move to Include partnership between WXXI and the Golisano Foundation. Through programming and special events, WXXI and the Golisano Foundation look to build a more inclusive community by inspiring and motivating people to embrace different abilities and include all people in every aspect of community life.

Alex Lehmann

A group billing itself as the first comedy troupe consisting of people with Asperger's syndrome - a high-functioning form of autism - is performing in Rochester tonight.

"Asperger's Are Us" is playing at Photo City Improv at 8 p.m.  

The four members of the troupe, Ethan Finlan, New Michael Ingemi, Jack Hanke, and Noah Britton started doing their quirky comedy sketches in small venues around Boston.

They've since appeared in a Netflix documentary and have been touring throughout North America and Europe this summer.

Librarians at the Irondequoit Public Library say they are in a unique position to help create a more inclusive community, and promoting diversity and understanding can start at a young age. That's why they've created the United Stories of America program. It's a pre-school storytime series with a social justice theme. Presenters include a female illusionist talking about gender identity, a disability rights activist, and more.

We talk about the program and hear stories from two of its presenters. In studio:

  • Matt Krueger, teen services librarian at the Irondequoit Public Library
  • Amy Holland, children’s librarian at the Irondequoit Public Library
  • Ed Popil ("Mrs. Kasha Davis"), local drag performer and performer from RuPaul's Drag Race, Season 7
  • Ericka Jones, systems advocate at the Center for Disability Rights

Coming up on Need to Know, their role is crucial in supporting individuals with disabilities, but their profession is seeing high turnover rates and unfilled vacancies. Why direct support professionals are being called underpaid and undervalued and what’s being done to change that.

Also on the show – turning adaptive sports for individuals with disabilities into family adventures.  The new way to think about and participate in inclusive activities.

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

The weather was perfect for a ball game as Challenger Miracle Field in Webster celebrated it’s grand opening Saturday morning.

The inclusive multi-use field is specifically designed for individuals with physical and/or cognitive challenges. The cushioned, turf field has wheel chair accessible dugouts and a completely flat surface to eliminate any barriers.

Barriers which Wendy McCarthy's son Liam had trouble with at other fields.

Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester

A dream that has been years in the making will become a reality Saturday for hundreds of local children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities as the ribbon is cut on the Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester.

The Webster athletic and multi-use facility has wheelchair accessible dugouts and a rubberized field surface to prevent injuries. 

We learn about two local organizations that provide recreational activities for people with disabilities: the Challenger Miracle Field and EquiCenter. Our guests share their experiences and the impact these organizations have had on our community. In studio:

  • Ron Kampff, president of Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester, and coach for the Webster Challenger Team and the Rochester BEEP Baseball Team (Rochester Pioneers)
  • Nico Santiago, Challenger player
  • Karen Werth, operations and therapeutic riding instructor for EquiCenter
  • Barbara Stickney, veteran and participant at EquiCenter

This conversation is part of WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, spotlighting issues related to disabilities. The WXXI Inclusion Desk is part of Move to Include, a partnership to encourage thoughtful discussion about issues of inclusion and the differently-abled.

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

AutismUp celebrated its 5th KiteFlite celebration at Capelli Sport Stadium Sunday afternoon.

The parent founded, parent lead organization provides programs to individuals in our community with autism.

The KiteFlite parade/charity walk culminated on center field where participants formed a giant human kite for an aerial photograph illustrating the strength of the community rising up for autism.

Director of Education and Training Rachel Rosner said the kite has been the organization's logo since day one.

Beth Adams/WXXI News

Twenty Rochester area seniors with developmental and intellectual disabilities are taking part in a new program that helps them connect with their same-aged peers in the community.

iPads are giving a voice to children who cannot speak.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says students at the Cantalician Center are learning to communicate in a new way in the classroom and at home.


Relationships are one of the keys to a richer life for people with disabilities.

That was the main message from an international speaker who visited Rochester today. 

Al Condeluci has traveled the world with this message; it's something that became clear to him years ago as he observed his cousin Carrie, who had Down syndrome.

Carrie was a natural part of Condeluci's family, but she was not connected to her community at large. What she needed, he said, was more social capital.

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